Flensburg and Barcelona hope for the trophy in the desertArticle
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PREVIEW: IHF Super Globe starts on Sunday - and the two 2014 VELUX EHF Champions League semi-final opponents are the big favourites.

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Flensburg and Barcelona hope for the trophy in the desert

It's for the trophy, it’s for the honour, it’s for the prize money. For the fifth straight time since 2010 the Qatari capital Doha is the host of the IHF Super Globe, the world championship for club teams. Eight club teams arriving from five continents fight for one trophy at the first test event for the 2015 world championship.

Europe is always represented by the VELUX EHF Champions League winners, so SG Flensburg-Handewitt are not only on their maiden journey to the desert, but also fighting for the only title the former EHF Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Challenge Cup winners have never won.

In the preliminary round (7 to 9 September) Flensburg face El Jaish (Qatar, Asian club champions), Al Ahli (Qatar, wild card participant) and HC Taubaté (Brazil, Pan-American club champions).

The biggest rival of the Flensburg team will be the defending IHF Super Globe champions FC Barcelona, who took their trophy at their first ever participation at this competition in 2013, beating HSV Hamburg in the rematch of the 2013 VELUX EHF Champions League final. Barcelona top Group B, facing Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia, African club champions), Sydney University (Australia, Oceania champions) and tournament's host Al Sadd (Qatar).

In the 2014 VELUX EHF Champions League semi-final Flensburg beat Barcelona in a thrilling penalty shoot-out and after a six goal backlog in the regular time.

“This is a different moment and a different competition. We have a lot of respect for Flensburg and if we play against them we will try to win - but do not have feelings like revenge on our mind,” said Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual prior to the departure to Doha.

But his motto for the IHF Super Globe is the same as for the VELUX EHF Champions League: “When FC Barcelona play we are always obliged to try to win and it is our target to achieve the title again.”

Both European sides can earliest face each other in the semi-finals (11 September), but as both are supposed to top their group after the preliminary stage, a dream final on 12 September could come true, as an appetizer for the Champions League, where Barcelona and Flensburg were also drawn in the same group.

“Flensburg and Barcelona are the favourites, but it’s handball and everything can happen during an event like the IHF Super Globe,” Barcelona team captain Victor Tomas is aware of all opponents.

On the other hand, the desert trip is something special for SG Flensburg-Handewitt.

“I am a coach full of passion, so every title, every trophy is brilliant – and we are always aiming to win titles, in Doha too,” coach Ljubomir Vranjes says. And team captain Tobias Karlsson hopes for the big final clash with Barcelona. “The anticipation on facing the best team of the world is always huge, a match with them is always something special. And we will see Barcelona soon again, as we encounter them twice in the group phase of the Champions League.”

For Vranjes the participation at the IHF Super Globe is something like a “mix of preparation and competition”, but “we fully focus on our performance in this case, not on the opponents. We will try to bring our concept of handball on the court as well as possible. In the end we will see how far we can go against these totally different opponents.”

So Flensburg hope to step in the line of their local rival, THW Kiel - as they were the only German IHF Super Globe winner in history, beating Atletico Madrid in the 2011 final. But most of the time the winners came from Liga Asobal, including Talant Dujshebaev (now coach of Polish Champions League participant Kielce), who won the trophy once as a player (1997 with Santander) and three times as the coach of Ciudad Real/Atletico Madrid.

The groups for the IHF Super Globe 2014:
Group A: SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER), El Jaish (QAT), Al Ahli (QAT), HC Taubaté (BRA)
Group B:  FC Barcelona (ESP), Espérance Sportive de Tunis (TUN), Sydney University (AUS), Al Sadd (QAT).

Past Winners of the IHF Super Globe
1997: CB Cantabria (Spain)
2002: Al Sadd (Qatar)
2007: BM Ciudad Real (Spain)
2010: BM Ciudad Real (Spain)
2011: THW Kiel (Germany)
2012: Atletico Madrid (Spain)
2013: FC Barcelona (Spain)

Past finals of the IHF Super Globe:
1997: CB Cantabria (Spain) – Drammen HK (Norway) 30:29
2002: Al Sadd (Qatar) – Sc Magdeburg (Germany) 35:32*
2007: BM Ciudad Real (Spain) – Al Ahly (Egypt) 29:28*
2010: BM Ciudad Real (Spain) – Al Sadd (Qatar) 30:25
2011: THW Kiel (Germany) - BM Ciudad Real (Spain) 28:25
2012: Atletico Madrid (Spain) - THW Kiel (Germany) 28:23
2013: FC Barcelona (Spain) – HSV Hamburg (Germany) 27:25
* That was the winner decider since no final was played. Round-robin matches decided final classification

Past Hosts of the IHF Super Globe:
1997: Vienna, Austria
2002: Doha, Qatar
2007: Cairo, Egypt
2010: Doha, Qatar
2011: Doha, Qatar
2012: Doha, Qatar
2013: Doha, Qatar

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br